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Your Monday Briefing: North Korea’s Rising Outbreak


Good morning. North Korea’s outbreak grows, India bans most wheat exports and South Korea amends its surgical procedure legal guidelines.

State media reported 21 new deaths and an enormous soar in suspected coronavirus circumstances on Saturday, as North Korea struggled to comprise its first reported outbreak.

State media mentioned an extra 174,400 folks had signs, like a fever, that might be attributable to Covid-19 — a tenfold soar from the 18,000 such circumstances reported on Friday. North Korea has reported a complete of 524,400 folks with Covid-like signs since late final month.

“North Korea is reporting solely ‘folks with fever’ as a result of it doesn’t have sufficient check kits,” an knowledgeable mentioned. Covid is probably not inflicting all these fevers, he mentioned, however the variety of asymptomatic circumstances is probably going a lot increased than the official depend.

Vaccines: North Koreans are unvaccinated, although some elites might have obtained pictures. Worldwide well being organizations and the South Korean authorities have mentioned that they had been able to ship vaccines, therapeutics and different help.

Including to issues of world meals insecurity, the world’s second-largest wheat producer has banned most exports of the grain. India’s commerce ministry mentioned {that a} sudden value spike had threatened the nation’s meals safety.

The transfer, an obvious about-face, may compound a worldwide shortfall and exacerbate a dire forecast for international starvation. In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised President Biden that India was prepared to provide the world with its reserves.

Background: The conflict has interrupted wheat manufacturing in Ukraine and Russia, and blockades within the Black Sea have disrupted transport of the grain. And local weather change poses a dire risk. Agricultural consultants mentioned that India’s ongoing warmth wave may have an effect on the harvest this yr. Torrential rains introduced on poor harvests in China, whereas drought in different international locations additional snarled provides.

South Korea has turn into one of many first international locations to require cameras in working rooms that deal with sufferers beneath basic anesthesia, a measure meant to revive religion within the medical system.

For years, hospitals have fielded complaints about docs turning sufferers over to unsupervised assistants who carry out “ghost surgical procedures.” About 5 sufferers have died from such surgical procedures up to now eight years, a affected person advocate mentioned.

In line with affected person advocates, surgeons deputize nurses to carry out operations, thereby packing in additional procedures and maximizing earnings. They argue that cameras will shield sufferers and supply medical malpractice victims proof to make use of in courtroom.

However ethicists and medical officers the world over have cautioned that surveilling surgeons might damage morale, violate affected person privateness and make physicians much less prone to take dangers to avoid wasting lives.

Background: The surreptitious surgical procedures started occurring at cosmetic surgery clinics within the 2010s, after South Korea began selling medical tourism, in line with authorized consultants. They unfold to spinal hospitals, consultants mentioned, which principally carry out comparatively uncomplicated procedures in excessive demand among the many nation’s growing older inhabitants.

Tattooing and not using a medical license is prohibited in South Korea, the place ornamental physique artwork has lengthy been related to organized crime. However the legislation is crashing into rising worldwide demand for what are generally known as “k-tattoos,” and the nation’s tattoo artists argue that it’s time to finish the stigma towards their enterprise.

Lives lived: Katsumoto Saotome compiled six books of survivors’ recollections of the 1945 Tokyo firebombing and based (with out authorities help) a memorial museum. Saotome died at 90.

Sixteen years in the past, Dennis DeGray’s thoughts was almost severed from his physique. He ran to take out the trash in a rainstorm, slipped, landed laborious on his chin, and snapped his neck, paralyzing him from the collarbones down.

For a number of years, he “merely laid there, watching the Historical past Channel,” he mentioned. However then he met Jaimie Henderson, a neurosurgeon at Stanford, who had been growing a brain-computer interface. Henderson requested DeGray if he wished to fly a drone. DeGray determined to take part.

Now, implants in his mind permit DeGray some management, though he can’t transfer his palms. Simply by imagining a gesture, he can transfer a pc cursor, function robotic limbs, purchase from Amazon and fly a drone — albeit solely in a simulator, for now.

There are apparent therapeutic functions. Curiosity from an rising variety of high-profile start-ups additionally suggests the potential of a future through which neural interfaces improve folks’s innate skills and grant them new ones — along with restoring these which have been misplaced.

That’s it for right this moment’s briefing. See you subsequent time. — Amelia

P.S. Elisabeth Goodridge, The Occasions’s deputy journey editor, will examine journey reporting in an period of local weather change as a 2023 Nieman fellow at Harvard.

The newest episode of “The Every day” is on America’s Covid demise toll.

You possibly can attain Amelia and the staff at briefing@nytimes.com.


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